Pacific Islands people arrive to help harvest Victoria’s fruits and vegetables

More than 100 seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands have arrived in Victoria, Australia, alleviating labor shortages on the state’s fruit and vegetable farms.

Up to 1,500 workers from the Pacific Islands will be quarantined in Tasmania for 14 days before arriving in Tasmania, based on an agreement between the Victoria State Government and the Tasmanian Government.

“Workers’ arrival is a great step towards strengthening the local workforce for a Victorian harvest,” said Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary Ann Thomas. statement.. “We have been working hard to secure these workers in collaboration with other jurisdictions following the challenges facing the coronavirus pandemic.”

In return, the Victoria State Government took 330 travelers from Tasmania back to Melbourne’s Hotel Quarantine and agreed that Tasmania would pay the bill.ABC) report.

“This is a great example of what governments, industries and employers can achieve by working together for the greater benefit of agriculture,” said Thomas.

The first group of Pacific Islands workers will spend the next few days settling in a new home in preparation for work next week.

Workers in Pacific countries are considered low risk of COVID-19 and are regular seasonal workers under the Pacific Labor Movement Scheme and Seasonal Workers Program.

The intake of 1,500 Pacific Islands workers is half the normal intake and is very welcome, but Thomas said it was not a “silver bullet.”

“We need to continue working to encourage locals to do these jobs, which the federal government should play an active role in,” he said.

The Victoria State Government has provided local job seekers with up to $ 2,500 to undertake seasonal work, which is reported to be short of 26,000 workers due to border closures.

To encourage workers to stay at work longer, Thomas said the government has devised a strategy to split payments so that workers can receive the full amount in eight weeks.

“It’s a tough job, and some people may want to try it out and find out after two weeks they probably can’t continue because it’s a tough physical job.” He said.

Mooroopna grower Peter Hall ABC Australians have always been reluctant to take on the job of harvesting fruits.

“The real problem for our industry, and for agriculture in general, is to have a sustainable workforce that enjoys and welcomes harvested labor and its demands,” he said.

However, the CEO of food maker SPC said the cash incentive was “smart” as the state was waiting for workers in the Pacific Islands.

“It encourages people to give something for the first 10 days and then they stay longer,” he said.

“Our Pacific neighbors will be warmly welcomed on our farm starting next week and will join local workers throughout the state as the harvest continues,” said Thomas.

The Victoria State Government thanked workers for their “dedication and valuable contributions” to the state.

AAP contributed to this report.